I love to read and write, always have, always will. Language was always an area of school that peaked my interest and cast a shadow over my average grades in math. Because of this, I have always been someone who has moments where I can sit down and binge read a good book or jot down ideas for a screenplay, skit, or blog. This creative mindset goes on hyperdrive when I am traveling in distant lands. During my time in Australia, I found myself with hours of free time, few distractions, and a zest for life that was absolutely exhilarating. Due to my background as an English major, I didn’t waste these creative juices and was able to write journal entries about my experiences, create a spec script for my favorite TV show at the time in “The Office,” and read a handful of books that have proven to give me inspiration even to this day.
All this being said, my travel tip for you today is to use the excitement that comes with being on an amazing trip to be creative. Write. Read. Dabble in photography. Even if this is as foreign to you as being in a new country, I assure you that it is good for the soul. You don’t need to be Hemingway or read books that need a dictionary to understand each sentence, but opening up these creative pathways in the brain is something that I think anyone can benefit from.
For those looking to try their hand at writing, here are some simple strategies to avoid the excuses that permeate even seasoned writers’ brains. Write what you know. Sitting down at the end of a long day, jot whatever thoughts comes into your head about the events that took place over the past 12 hours. Describe a great meal you ate in a detailed manner. Explain what you saw while walking through a new city or down a hiking trail. Try to remember any interactions you had with the locals. It may not seem like it while you’re writing, but it will be a nice treat to look back at a travel journal and be able to remember specifically the interesting moments that took place on your adventure. If you write what you know, what you experienced, and what you saw, you should have plenty of content, and who knows, you might find that this is a pursuit that you enjoy doing.
With reading, I’d avoid looking through People Magazine or any other periodicals that you’d pick up at an airport or read at a doctor’s office. You do that in your everyday life, and your trip is a chance to live outside your bubble of comfort. Instead, try your hand at something new that relates to the place you are visiting. For me, I first took on Bill Bryson’s “In a Sunburnt Country,” a hilarious and poignant look into the culture of the Land Down Under. I also scoured travel books and literature specifically about places I was going to visit during my time in Australia, giving me ideas for excursions and experiences. Without this mindset, I would have never thought to camp on Fraser Island, find a foodie corner in Melbourne, or discover cheap accommodations needed to be a beach bum in Sydney.
Now I know there are many people who just don’t enjoy the ideas of sitting down while on a vacation doing things that may not have been enjoyable in school, and I can’t blame you. If someone told me that I should try some geometry during leisure time, I’d likely use the compass as a weapon. Why not try and take some amazing photos of your adventures. A simple snap and shoot camera or even an average smart phone are capable to capturing some amazing shots of the places you will be visiting, and it’d be pretty rewarding to come back to reality with a visual log of all the cool things you saw. Shoot landscapes, interesting people, a selfie in front of a landmark, the ocean, a sunset, the night sky with a full moon. Any and all of these could be extremely creative and you won’t regret the memories you will now have to share and remember.
This isn’t meant to be a chore. If it feels like that, then maybe this idea isn’t for everyone. I would give it a try though, because as far as I’m concerned, every person on this planet is capable of creating interesting pieces of writing, photos, or being inspired by others’ ideas. At worst, you will have yet another thing to remember from your trip. At best, you may find a lifelong hobby, or if you realize there’s some real talent, a job.